Spatial and temporal control of glassy-crystalline domains in optical phase change materials


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Chalcogenide phase change materials (PCMs) have become one of the most promising material platforms for the Optics and Photonics community. The unparalleled combination of nonvolatility and large optical property modulation promises devices with low-energy consumption and ultra-compact form factors. At the core of all these applications lies the difficult task of precisely controlling the glassy amorphous and crystalline domains that compose the PCM microstructure and dictate the optical response. A spatially controllable glassy-crystalline domain distribution is desired for intermediate optical response (vs. binary response between fully amorphous and crystalline states), and temporally resolved domains are sought after for repeatable reconfiguration. In this perspective, we briefly review the fundamentals of PCM phase transition in various reconfiguring approaches for optical devices. We discuss each method's underpinning mechanisms, design, advantages, and downsides. Finally, we lay out current challenges and future directions in this field.
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Key words
chalcogenides,optical materials,phase change materials
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